Kobold Press

Behind the Curtain: Sunken Empires

Sunken EmpiresVery soon, I sense there will be some very wet PCs!

Why? Because hot on the heels of the Open Design/Paizo joint project From Shore to Sea is the sourcebook Sunken Empires. Uncover the secrets of Lost Azlant with the first and tailor your own underwater world and characters with the second.

Well, we want to give you an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes at Open Design, so every week, you’ll hear from one of the Kobolds on the progress of a current project. And this week it’s me and Sunken Empires.

Pushing myself to the front of the line, I can proudly proclaim that I have finished edits on Sunken Empires. Brandon Hodge did an amazing job pulling together the patron content and developing it into a cohesive unit. My job was to take it the next step, taking on the role of editor, and it wasn’t all easy…

Because the turnover came in about 20% larger than expected! In a way, that’s good news since it meant that, editorially, I could ensure only the very best material ended up in the book. However, I had the daunting task of deciding what to cut out to make our pagecount goal,  so I snipped and stitched, polished and prodded, readying it for layout.

In the end, I emerged covered in ink and reeking of shame for the unlawful amputation I had to perform. But I dusted myself off and shored up my sensibilities knowing that, because it was so difficult, this must simply be great design. In the end, I didn’t cut material because it wasn’t good enough but,  rather, for SPACE! That means we have some great, extra pieces that you’ll be seeing both in Kobold Quarterly and on this very site.

Now, the sourcebook is in the loving care of the very talented Crystal Frasier, who will be ushering the text through layout.

I sense the sea in your future! But before I go, let’s take a sneak peak at the book…

Underwater adventuring is the canvas for the entire project, and this snippet from the section detailing underwater environments highlights what’s in store:

Sages and scholars assign all manner of academic names to the deep seas, labeling them with obscure names according to depth and temperature, but ask any adventurer, and they’ll say “it gets deep and just goes deeper.” At some point, the differentiation of these zones becomes an academic exercise, but for those facing the terrors this deep below the surface—beyond 700 ft.—there are only 3 of vital note: impenetrable darkness, unforgiving cold, and incredible pressures that can implode magical full plate like a pie tin. Once the last dusky haze of sunlight fades from the level above and adventurers pass the thermocline border into the bitter-cold depths, you are entering the area known to adventurers as the Underdeep.

Many fish thrive in these dark recesses of the sea by making light of their own in the form of bioluminescence. The ocean floor is universally barren, punctuated only by fields of black smokers, whale carcasses and the occasional sick glow of an aboleth stronghold. Out of the reach of the warming rays of the sun, the temperature drops rapidly to near freezing at the lower depths of this zone, and hypothermia is a real risk for unprotected creatures, dealing 1d6 cold damage/minute of exposure. Depth pressure is crushing at this level, dealing 1d6 damage/minute/100 ft. of depth to unprotected creatures. (The GM should rule that adapted aquatic creatures, especially those found on the random encounter table for this depth, are immune to this damage, and for others, Chapter 2 includes the Depth Affinity feat for those creatures that you need to appear at this level.)

Near the twin cities of Cassadega, the continental shelf plunges deeply only a short boat ride from shore, about 5 miles from the coast on a jagged ledge known to local as “the Brink.” Here, the water drops from an average depth of 200 ft. to a staggering 10,000 ft. Powerful magics are needed to explore these depths, which include the final remnants of Ankeshel, now dominated by aboleths and their deep-dwelling slaves…

Ancient cultures also play a large role in the book, and this short piece details one of the many bits of lost technology that might be found:

Cryothermic Pacifier: This complicated firearm is manufactured from a curious mix of cobalt and copper and feels cold to the touch. Used primarily for crowd control, the funnel-shaped barrel discharges a 20-ft. cone of freezing air that drains vitality from those in its path (Reflex DC 12 halves). The freezing vapor may be fired 1/round as a standard action that drains 4 charges from a connected vril battery, and the weapon requires a full vril water container. A single pint of vril water produces 4 shots from the weapon, and the jars may be replaced as a full round action.

12 Replies to "Behind the Curtain: Sunken Empires"

Bill "Varianor" Collins

March 25, 2010 at 4:58am

Ah for the early days of devil-may-care OD publishing when we said “to heck with the page count!” ;)

(It’s probably a sounder decision to stick with page count though.)

What is getting cut? That might be helpful for us all to have a brief list so we know what to avoid on future projects. As in, specific sections, or just some material here and there?

doomedpaladin

March 25, 2010 at 5:03am

Can the Pacifier be fired underwater?

Wolfgang

March 25, 2010 at 8:14am

A single monster, a bevy of spells, some sidebar material…. It’s small bits and pieces here and there that are being cut.

I suspect many of those cuts will appear here on the site.

Stefen

March 25, 2010 at 11:00am

Will this be the same product offered through the Paizo site? I noticed Paizo’s site says Sunken Empires is 64 pages and this one is 72.

If they are different which one do the patrons receive?

Wolfgang

March 25, 2010 at 11:57am

You have sharp eyes, but this is the same product as offered on the Paizo site. Page count (as mentioned in the post) always grows a bit around here….

Patrons all get the PDF in full color at 72 pages. There are not separate versions for Paizo and for Open Design; it’s the same book.

Stefen

March 25, 2010 at 12:25pm

Awesome. Eight extra pages of gaming goodness! Thanks!

Fenryx

March 26, 2010 at 12:05am

OK, I’m tempted. I need to take care of a few other things but color interested.

Wicht

March 26, 2010 at 4:34am

So which monster was cut?

steve

March 26, 2010 at 6:14am

I love the cover redesign – kudos!

Theocrat

March 26, 2010 at 2:30pm

Hi all –
Sunken Empires was a hulk…according to the Patron Only section…’Things are looking good for Sunken Empires. After working over the space of some 37 documents over the last several months, I finally assembled our book into a single draft and was able to at last get the broad perspective of what we’ve created. It is incredible. Currently, it is a 76,000 page documents absolutely BRIMMING….'(what it’s brimming with edited out). So now you know…not just a single monster, a thing here or there..we’re talking getting this down to what 60pages – Man, that’s 75,940 pages of good stuff we’ve lost. But we were told that those 75,000 pages of goodness would be up on the Kobold Web site.
Be Well. Be Well Missed.
Theocrat Issak
P.S. Just so you know, that was a typo of 76k pages, don’t want someone thinking they’re going to have massive shipping charges on the their Visa.

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